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Innovation Made in Norway Generates high interest in Austria

14. December 2018

No Isolation - Helping Children and Senior Citizens stay connected

No Isolation (www.noisolation.com) is an Oslo-based start-up founded to reduce involuntary social solitude. Its first product, a physical avatar named AV1, allows children and young adults, forced by illness to take extended time away from school, to maintain a presence in the classroom, communicate with friends, and socialise. This minimises loneliness and reduces the short and long-term educational and developmental impacts of absence. Currently, more than 800 AV1 telepresence robots are in use across Europe.

Designed in consultation with teachers and scientists at the University of Oslo and The Norwegian Cancer Society, AV1 launched in 2016. With 72,000 children in the UK estimated to be suffering long-term illness, No Isolation offers a tech solution to parents, schools, or CSR-committed organisations eager to support children whose health conditions - whether life-threatening or temporarily debilitating - require them to remain in hospital or their own homes. In May 2017, the Norwegian Ministry of Education accredited No Isolation, confirming AV1 as a “valid option for remote learning”, and stating that “usage of the robot, as a supplement to traditional learning methods, can provide the student with an increased feeling of inclusion, compared to not using the robot”, encouraging parents and schools to invest in the technology.  

The need for No Isolation was identified by CEO and co-founder, Karen Dolva, when she met Anne Fi Troye - a mother who had lost her teenage daughter to cancer in 2005. In the years after the original diagnosis, both Anne Fi and her daughter Cornelia experienced a level of solitude that was “much worse than the diagnosis, the pain, and the treatment.” Currently, Anne Fi continues her efforts to improve the lives of children in the hospital, and it is this ethos that is also at the core of No Isolation. AV1 was created in this same spirit, and in consultation with Anne Fi.  

Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO of No Isolation, comments: 

“We have learnt that when children suffer from long-term illness, their corresponding isolation from friends makes it harder for them to recover and to come back to school when they feel better. We are also aware that developing speech and social skills is just as important as following the curriculum. When they are not a part of the social scene, children miss out on important learning through play and interaction.” 

“At No Isolation, the purpose of our technology is to help people alleviate the feeling of loneliness. We want to develop tools for the groups that need more than generic solutions. AV1 helps children with long-term illness to stay in touch with their friends, keep up with their education, and secure that crucial link to everyday life.” 

Company Background 

Founded in 2015, No Isolation has so far helped more than 800 children and young adults across Europe. Partnered with the Norwegian Cancer Society, the University of Oslo, Swedish-Finnish telecom company Telia, and several high-profile Norwegian hospitals, No Isolation received its Seal of Excellence from the European Commission in 2016. The company currently has a presence, and product, in Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the UK.  

No Isolation decided to enter the UK market following an overwhelming response from social media advertising in Britain, which attracted more than two million people. CEO and co-founder Karen Dolva explains that, “the staggering level of enthusiasm from the public, as well as the UK’s current interest in mental health and healthcare, confirmed the importance of the British market for No Isolation.” 

AV1 

AV1 is a telepresence robot designed to help children and young adults who suffer from long-term illness reconnect with their social lives. 

AV1 uses a MEMS digital microphone, a powerful loudspeaker, and camera encased within an avatar to enable users to communicate using live-streaming technology. It connects with an app available for iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets. Also encased in the shell are intelligent motor mechanisms, allowing the avatar to rotate 360 degrees horizontally and 70 degrees vertically, enabling natural head movements. This ensures that the child can see and hear everything in the classroom.  

Additional features include:  

  • Expressive eyes - AV1 allows the child to emote in both classroom and social situations via illustrative facial expressions. Via the AV1 app, children can set their AV1 to have happy, sad or confused eyes, in addition to its default oval eyes.
  • Easy-to-see indicators - The light strip on AV1’s body provide immediate and clear indications, making it easy to see if it is connected to the internet, booting, or needs to be charged.
  • Carry handle to enable better grip - To ensure that AV1 is easily transportable,

AV1 features a carry handle and a graspable TPE coated back panel.

  • Fast charging - If the AV1 is entirely out of battery, it only needs about 30 minutes of charging time to connect to the stream again.


To enable the student to better connect with their peers, AV1 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi networks, as well as 4G, thus allowing the user to go outside at break-time, via the avatar. A hard outer-shell, eight hours of battery life, and a total weight of 1.573kg, makes AV1 easy to lift and move around both indoors and outside over the period of an average school day. AV1 streams audio two ways, and video one way. When developing AV1, the founders saw that the children at home often found it uncomfortable to be on display in the classroom. By using one-way video, it allows them to stay in bed, without worrying about being on display.

 

AV1 is currently available to rent or buy in the UK. For families with children who expect to be away for a short period of time it is most common to rent, with prices beginning at £220/month. Organisations in the public sector, such as schools or local authorities, might be more inclined to buy the avatar, with prices starting from £2,779, so that they can recycle the robot to use with future students who may need it. Both models include unlimited 4G, technical support, automatic software updates, and an extended guarantee.

      

KOMP

In December 2017 No Isolation’s second product, KOMP, was launched in small scale in Norway. It is a communication device designed to ensure seamless communication within the family, while focusing on the needs of seniors. The screen is placed at the senior’s house, and family and friends can connect through an app. KOMP has one button, and the content is uploaded and managed through the app. User friendliness is perhaps its most prominent feature, ensuring that pre-existing digital skills are unnecessary. The senior simply switches KOMP on to passively receive calls, images and messages. 

Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO 

Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO of No Isolation, was first inspired when she met Anne Fi Troye, a mother who had lost her teenage daughter to cancer in 2005. As a strong advocate of harnessing technology to solve problems, Karen, along with co-founders Marius Aabel and Matias Doyle, began to research how technology could be used to support children with debilitating illnesses in the summer of 2015. No Isolation was then founded in October 2015, and the first prototype for AV1 was made available in January 2016.  

Born in Norway, Karen studied Computer Science and Interaction Design at the University of Oslo, a leading institution in the field of education and research. She began her career at StartupLab Oslo, before co-founding UX Lab, a user interaction consultancy. Karen then became a board member at Oslo MedTech, and eventually co-founded No Isolation alongside Marius and Matias (both previously employed as a consultant and developer respectively at National Oilwell Varco, a worldwide leader in oil and gas drilling equipment), whom she knew from her time at StartupLab, where they rented offices and ran a start-up called Refero.  

In June 2018, Karen was announced as one of the four winners of the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2018, being awarded the Rising Innovator award for her work with No Isolation. Previously, Karen was awarded the Norway Female Entrepreneur Award 2016. She has also won the Young Management Award from E24, within the field of Innovation.

Karen and No Isolation’s mission is to create technology and communication solutions to help marginalised groups in society. Their core aim is to ensure that everyone can participate in day-to-day activity on their own terms, in a way that feels most comfortable to them. 

www.noisolation.com
For UK media enquiries please contact:
Kristina Bassett
0044 2072 435 105 / 0044 7496 597 422
 


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